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Health
Coronavirus news and updates about the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Half Of Charlotte Hospital Workers Haven’t Scheduled COVID-19 Vaccinations

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Atrium Health

Atrium Health received its first shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 14. Since then, the hospital system has invited about 33,380 health care workers in Phase 1a to get the shot. But only about half have scheduled a vaccine appointment.

“It’s somewhere around 50% [of] who we’ve invited and those who’ve either accepted and scheduled themselves or who’ve actually been vaccinated,” Atrium’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Little told reporters Wednesday.

As of Wednesday evening, 15,420 of the hospital system’s employees had scheduled vaccine appointments, according to Atrium’s website. Spokesperson Chris Berger blamed this in part on employees’ busy schedules rather than vaccine refusal, though he said in an email that he’s “sure there are some that are hesitant and waiting to see how others do.”

“Patient-facing teammates are working non-stop,” Berger said. “So, between them responding and finding a time to be scheduled while continuing to work on getting them lined up to be vaccinated, to have nearly half three weeks in is pretty impressive.”

He added that Atrium will “keep communicating” with employees about how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is.

The vaccination rate is similar at Charlotte’s other large hospital system, Novant Health. “Nearly half” of Novant’s Phase 1a employees have scheduled a vaccine appointment or received their first vaccine dose, spokesperson Megan Rivers said in an email on Thursday. She said Novant has vaccinated about 5,400 of its employees in the Charlotte area and 12,100 team members across its system, which includes locations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Some health care workers across the U.S. are reportedly refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, including in Los Angeles, Fresno and Chicago. A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly a third probably or definitely would refuse vaccination.

North Carolina’s top health official responded at a press conference Wednesday to reports that some in the state were declining the vaccine.

“We’ve had no serious safety concerns from the vaccine,” state Health Secretary Mandy Cohen said. “I think folks will start to see ... that it’s safe and effective.”

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have both been approved for Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. They are each about 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 after two shots.

Cohen said that the vaccines, while developed quickly, were built on years of work to develop vaccines for similar viruses and were rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness.

As of Tuesday, 109,799 North Carolinians had received their first dose, according to state numbers.

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